The Accidental Sinner

If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, he is guilty. (Leviticus 4:27)

Okay. So I’m doing my dorky power walk thing. This is before my neon green running suit era. Anyway, I’m out one late, rainy afternoon doing my walking thing. I’ve got an umbrella because, like I say, I haven’t gotten my green, water-resistant running suit yet. The rain’s coming down gently and I’m actually enjoying myself for a change. But then this dark, evil cloud eclipses the sky and the temperature plummets like 20 degrees in seconds. All at once, like the wrath of God, huge hailstones pour from the sky. I keep walking, mostly because I have no choice. The hail slams my umbrella like, well, like a hail of machine-gun bullets, but my shield holds and I continue on my way.

I come to an intersection, look both ways, and begin to cross. Suddenly, I’m nailed from behind by an SUV which punches me into the air and onto the ground. My umbrella dances away and I’m flat on my back in the middle of the road. Instinctively I jump to my feet (I don’t want to get run over again) and look around. All traffic has stopped. The guilty SUV sits guiltily a few feet away. I pick up my now bent umbrella and hobble over as the SUV’s driver’s side door tentatively opens. Inside sits an 80-year-old man. His wife sits in shock on the passenger side. I clear my throat. “Sir,” I say. “I do believe you ran me over.” The old guy looks up at me and without missing a beat answers, “Sir, I do believe I did.” I like the old guy immediately. It turns out that he’s a retired pastor (figures). He and his mute wife give me a ride home and we call it good. As soon as my butt feels better, I head to town and buy myself the loudest, most obnoxiously bright neon green running outfit I could find. The critics be damned.

The $10,000 point? A mistake will land you on your ass as good as any premeditated attack with a blunt SUV. Sometimes “Gee, I didn’t know that” doesn’t mean jack in the grand scheme of things. Motive may reveal what you wanted, but it doesn’t undo what happened. The old pastor may not have meant to pong me, but I ended up on my asphalt nonetheless.

You know, of course, that some of the biggest pains in the butt are those who mean well. They stick their noses where they’re not welcome, do you favors you don’t want, and help you out by making the situation ten times worse. You’d kill them if they weren’t so damn nice about it. In fact, there are times you’re not sure that you’re not going to kill them anyway. As the proverb goes: “If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.” Intent may be 9/10ths of the law, but it’s the tithe that kicks you in the teeth.

So when it comes to God, claims to ignorance and intention don’t hold a lot of water. It only means that you’re not only a screwup, you’re a stupid screwup. To God, if you break the law you’re a lawbreaker. Like, duh. We human stain always appeal to mitigating circumstances to get off the hook. To God, sin is as sin does. A miscreant in a tuxedo is a miscreant, except with a tendency to overdress. So don’t be looking for some slack from the Big Guy just because you’re slow on the take.

Wise up maybe.


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